John Stott on the politics of Jesus

As for our Lord Jesus Christ, his message had more far-reaching political implications than is commonly recognized. His contemporaries certainly thought so, for they had him arrested, tried and condemned on a charge of sedition. ‘We found this man perverting our nation,’ the Jewish leaders said to Pilate, ‘and forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar, saying that he himself is Christ a king,’ (Luke 23:1,2) while the inscription over the cross, identifying the crime for which he was executed, read ‘This is the king of the Jews.’ (Luke 23:38) Of course the Jewish accusation was partly a lie. Jesus neither perverted the nation nor prohibited tribute to Caesar. Yet he did claim to be a king, indeed the King, God’s King. And the Jewish leaders perceived something of the implications of his claim to kingship. Indeed, the Jews later continued the same campaign against his apostles. ‘These men…have turned the world upside down,’ they complained in Thessalonica. That is, they are political subversives, for ‘they are all acting against the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus.’ (Acts 17:6,7) Was it a slander? Or was the accusation true? It was both. Of course the apostles were not inciting the people to revolt. But they were proclaiming the supreme kingship of Jesus, and this necessarily meant denying to Caesar that which he coveted most, namely the absolute homage of his subjects, even their worship. It meant, further, that King Jesus had a community of subjects who looked to him for directions about their values, standards and lifestyle; who knew they had a responsibility to be the world’s salt and light; and who were prepared, whenever there was a collision between the two communities and their two value-systems, to defy Caesar and follow Christ, even at the cost of their lives. It was all very alarming to the political establishment whose chief concern was to maintain undisturbed the social status quo.

John Stott, Between Two Worlds: The Challenge of Preaching Today, 164-165.

prayer

Let your continual mercy, O Lord, cleanse and defend your Church; and, because it cannot continue in safety without your help, protect and govern it always by your goodness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Book of Common Prayer